Bus Riders Union score a victory
Grassroots organizers and community members stop bus line reductions
The Bus Rider’s Union (BRU) scored a decisive victory Thursday when the MTA Board of Directors unanimously rejected a series of proposed service cuts to local bus service which threatened the mobility of thousands of bus riders.
The most impacted area would have been South Los Angeles, where 24 bus lines would have been eliminated and another 21 lines in Los Angeles County would have been reduced in June 2008.
The cuts would have threatened the mobility of thousands of bus riders and severely affected weekend, midday and night service.
Cuts would have also eliminated 20,000 annual hours that would have taken effect in December.
“This is a major victory for bus riders and the communities in which they reside,” said Lisa Adler, organizer for the BRU, who said that the union lobbied several MTA service sector members to reject the MTA staff’s budget driven cuts. Among other organizing efforts, the BRU urged MTA board members Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke, Councilman Bernard Parks and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to explore other avenues for the cuts. “Supervisor Burke, Councilman Parks and Mayor Villaraigosa were concerned about what kind of conditions riders would face if the cuts were approved,” said Adler. “When a report came back in April that lines would be reduced and riders would have to walk 1/2 mile or more to catch the nearest bus, they asked for the MTA to look for more money elsewhere to allay the cuts,” said Adler.
“The MTA said the reason they needed to cut and reduce bus lines is because they are facing a deficit and are out of money, even though they raised bus fares last year.”
Adler said that although the MTA has a stable budget of $3 billion a year, most of their efforts have been concentrated on pouring money into freeway and rail projects. In March, the MTA approved $40 million dollars for freeway projects.
“It is our opinion that the MTA is trying to justify balancing the budget on the backs of the poorest people,” said Adler. “We commend the leadership of Mayor Villaraigosa, Supervisor Burke and Councilmember Bernard Parks in opposing these cuts and leading a struggle on the Board. This was an important alliance and we hope this begins a conversation about working together to reverse the 2009 fare increase,” said Adler.